Autism and Decorating – A Few Tips

In February I posted about my oldest son’s room and some of the decorating delimmas I’ve faced raising a son with Autism. Click here to see that post.
Today I want to expound on that subject a little. I’m no expert on Autism, but I have been raising a child with Autism for the last 18 years, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned over the years.
1. The experts say to choose calm, soothing colors for your child’s room. Don’t assume that those colors are going to be pale or neutral colors. More than likely they will be colors that are the most familiar. My son has always loved bright yellows, oranges and blues.
2. Make sure that any furniture you put in your child’s room is sturdy and easy to clean. Try not to have too many things for your child to climb on. If you have any question about whether or not to use a piece of furniture, use it on a trial basis. If, after a month of close observation your child has either ignored it or used it properly, than it is probably OK.
3. When decorating, try to buy things that are easily replaced or very inexpensive. This way if your child gets creative and takes something apart or throws a tantrum and breaks something, you won’t go broke trying to fix or replace things.
4. The most important thing is to know your own child. I know that sounds kind of silly, but every child is different and this holds true for Autistic children too.
For example, my son rarely bothered little knick knacks. I was able to trust him not to (purposefully) break them. However, he doesn’t exactly understand that extra caution is needed to keep them from getting broken. That is why most of his little breakables are from the dollar store and up on a shelf over his chair where they are less likely to have an accident.
4. Life stages are important too. My son functions on about the level of a three year old. That does not mean that he hasn’t matured or gained new understanding of how things work. Three year olds are pretty smart and figure a lot of things out, so imagine if your three year old had 18 years to figure things out. Does that make sense to you? It’s sometimes difficult to explain this to people.
When my son was little he interacted more with people, didn’t throw many tantrums and didn’t need much in the way of medications. When he went through puberty everything changed. He began throwing more tantrums, biting himself, hitting himself in the head and interacting less and less; he couldn’t be trusted with very much in his room because he would either destroy it or hurt himself. Now we are through with puberty and the hormone levels have stabilized. He doesn’t have as many tantrums, has more interaction with family and he can be trusted to have a few things in his room.
Trust your instincts – most of the time they will be right. If you have any questions or would just like to chat, feel free to email me happyhodgepodgehome@yahoo.com. I would love to hear from you! :o)
Michelle

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4 thoughts on “Autism and Decorating – A Few Tips

  1. I love that you share your life with Autism (good and bad) I have worked with children with Autism for 16 years and other parents need to hear that they are not alone and the solutions that you have found (and mistakes that you have made) are always helpful to them and to educators as well!Love your son's room, you did a great job!Hugs and thanks for sharing! karen…..

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